Autopilot

Effect: A shuffled deck is divided into three piles, a card is freely chosen from any of these, noted, then lost in the pack by the spectator, in a manner that precludes any possibility of key cards or other common methods of location.

The performer shuffles the pack to lose the card further, and again cuts the deck into three piles. The spectator is asked to point to any of the three, and ends by finding his own card.

Method: The deck must contain fifty-two cards, but may be freely shuffled beforehand. After the shuffling, you must secretly establish a break below the twenty-sixth card from the top. Here is one way that can be accomplished:

As you introduce the trick, casually begin a faro shuffle, but change your mind and instead give the cards an overhand shuffle. This, at least, is what seems to happen. Actually, you perform a faro check, splitting the deck at center and weaving the corners of the two packets together. Once you have seen that your cut is accurate, strip the corners apart and replace the top half on the bottom half, holding a break between them. (If the cut proves to be off-center, you can adjust it at this point by dropping a card from the top half to the bottom, or by picking one up.)

Now give the pack an overhand shuffle, shuffling off to the break, injogging the next card and shuffling off the balance. As you square the pack, form a break below the injogged card as you push It flush.

With the break established, casually cut off about ten cards and set the packet onto the table. Next cut off all the remaining cards above the break (about sixteen) and set that packet to the right of the first. Place the balance of the deck (twenty-six cards) to the right of the second packet. You must keep track of the large pile, but this is easily done, as it is visibly thicker.

Invite someone to pick up any one of the three piles, shuffle it to his satisfaction, then peek at the top card of the packet. You now guide his actions in losing the card in the deck, and in doing so you secretly position the selection twenty-seventh from the top. Two logical procedures make this possible.

1) If the selection is made from either of the smaller piles, have the spectator drop that pile onto the other small pile. Then have him pick up the untouched large pile, shuffle it and drop it onto the others, burying the selection twenty-seven cards down.

2) If the selection is made from the large pile, have him place the two smaller piles together and shuffle them. Then have him drop these combined piles onto the large pile, burying the selection. (Again it is twenty-seventh from the top.)

Once he has squared the car ds, seemingly leaving you no clue, take the deck and give it a false overhand shuffle—one that need only preserve the position of the selection. A shuffle like the Jordan-Ireland red-black shuffle is well suited for the purpose: Shuffle off roughly twenty cards, until you see that you are nearing the center of the pack. Now run single cards until you are safely past the twenty-seventh. Then shuffle off the balance. Repeat this shuffle and the selection will again be twenty-seventh from the top. Or you can achieve your goal with one shuffle alone by simply shuffling off roughly twenty cards and throwing the balance of the pack beneath them.

Next perform a perfect in-faro. This brings the selection to the top of the pack. Follow the shuffle with a cut, undercutting about a third of the pack to the top and holding a break beneath it.

Explain to the spectator, "We can find your card in the same way it was chosen." Cut off all the cards above the break and place the packet on the table. Cut off half the remaining cards and set this packet to the right of the first. (The top card of this pile is the selection.) Lay the final third of the deck to the right of the second pile.

"Please point to any pile." Chances are good that he will indicate the center one. If this occurs, ask the spectator to name his card, then to turn over the top card of the pile he has chosen.

If, however, he points to one of the end plies, say. "Fine. I want you to shuffle that pile into the others like this." Take the two unchosen piles and riffle them together, dropping the selection last, so that it becomes the top card,

When the spectator riffles his third of the pack into the other portion, which is twice as large, it is highly likely that the selection will remain on top. Watch to see if this is the case, though outwardly you should appear unconcerned with the shuffling. Ask him to name his card, then to turn over the top card of the deck he himself has just shuffled.

The only other possibility—and the least likely of the lot—is that he will shuffle one or several cards onto the selection. In such cases you should be able to see exactly how many indifferent cards he releases over his card. If you have any doubt about the number, stop him before he pushes the portions flush, and ribbon spread the interlaced deck as you say, "I think you will agree, since the shuffle is yours, that it is a thorough one." With the deck spread In this manner, the cards above the selection can be easily counted. (This clever ploy is a little-known idea of Arthur Finley's.)

Gather the spread, returning the two packets to their semi-shuffled state, and have the spectator push them square. You now know the exact position of the selection, and can devise some effective means of reaching it. For example, assume the selection is second from the top (the most likely situation}. Ask the spectator to name his card. As the name is leaving his lips, give the pack a smart slip cut on the table, bringing the selection to the top. Then have him turn over the top card to conclude. If more than one card has been shuffled over the selection, several slip cuts can be performed in quick succession, or a tabled double undercut can be executed. Other solutions will certainly occur to each reader.

It is best, of course, if the spectator locates his card by pointing to the right pile, or by shuffling the cards: but any of the possible outcomes creates for the audience an unsolvable and impressive mystery.

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